Patient Care

UR Researcher Earns $1 Million Grant to Lead Statewide LGBT Cultural Competency Training

Apr. 10, 2019
Funds Will Support Needs Assessment, Instruction for Health Care, Social Service Organizations in New York
LGBT flag with stethoscope
Brooke Levandowski, PhD, MPA

The New York State Department of Health’s AIDS Institute has awarded Brooke Levandowski, PhD, MPA of the UR Medicine Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology a five-year, $1 million grant for LGBT-Health, a program to provide cultural competency training to organizations across the state that provide health care and human services to the LGBT community.

The overall mission of LGBT-Health is to reduce disparities experienced by LGBT populations by helping health and human services agencies across the state more effectively reach and serve their constituent populations.

LGBT-Health will teach best-practice, evidence-based interventions and access strategies designed primarily to help agencies build trust with their clients so clients can gain the full benefit of health care resources available to them. For example, the state has funded 37 agencies to provide health and human services to LBGT patients, including Trillium Health in the Rochester region; LGBT-Health will provide training to all of them.

“New York has provided funding for 37 agencies across the state to expand their services and reach LGBT patients –to best serve us, agencies need to ensure that they are culturally competent and organizationally prepared.” Levandowski said.

“If you are worried that your health care provider is going to discriminate against you, you are less likely to communicate openly, which is essential to an effective patient-provider relationship and ensuring that patients receive access to services that meet their health needs and address their questions,” said Levandowski, who is Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Senior Informaticist at the CTSI.

“The LGBT community has for many years been fighting for organizations and health care professionals to recognize that we have specific health care needs,” she added. “Activism in the LGBT community over the past number of decades is starting to be appreciated and recognized. Organizations that may not have traditionally served our community are starting to recognize they could benefit from training. Now we have a perfect storm of agencies willing to engage in training, and funders willing to pay for it.”

LGBT-Health will support the state’s network of LGBT-serving organizations with tools and resources that respond to the agencies’ needs and existing abilities, and aimed at helping agencies achieve their own vision for providing equitable and effective care for the LGBT populations.

The grant project launches May 1. LGBT-Health will begin with a needs assessment of each agency to identify gaps in capabilities, then deliver appropriate training, which could include leadership development, program development, coordination, health promotion/awareness, education and support—with particular emphasis on sexual orientation, sexual preference, sexual identity, gender identity, and the intersectionality of these topics with race and ethnicity. 

In addition to traditional training delivery methods, the grant will enable use of newer technologies, including webinars, tele-training, social media, and web-enabled networking among the participating agencies.

LGBT-Health is modeled on the University of Rochester’s Resource Center of Excellence for the AI Clinical Education Initiative, which supports a network of 16,000 learners and hundreds of institutions across New York State.